Showing posts with label Economics - Information. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Economics - Information. Show all posts
  • Anonymity and Information Reliability

    This is an era where people can spread information anonymously and are able to gain trust from a lot of other people. The million dollar question is: Is this a good thing or a bad thing?

    I know that some people do not like the fact that these anonymous informants can get many viewers in such an easy way and fear that these viewers will be fooled by distribution of false information. This, however, is an exaggeration. 

    Like it or not, having anonymous informants is a normal thing in the modern market of information, especially with our telecommunication technological advances.  

    And in such market, there will be high quality information and low quality information. Trying to have a paternalistic central body to analyze and differentiate each type of information would be very costly. So it would be better to let the people themselves decide whether the information is worth to know or not.

    Furthermore, it would also be too late to say that anonymous informants are unreliable and should be censored at this stage. Similar to anything that falls under the category of free speech, censorship would always be costly and difficult to do (unless you are the government of China).

    Rather than spending our times thinking how to prevent these anonymous informants from getting more and more viewers, we should do what every rational man would do: ignore them.

    Why? It’s simple. If the unreliable information hurts the interest of certain people or entity, they would be the ones who naturally have the biggest incentive to fight back and spend their resources for such fight. We’ve seen these cases happen in the real world. 

    There would be no need for bystanders like us to join the fight and spend our precious time and resources to deal with informants that we think are unreliable in the first place.

    Or might it be that you are enraged by the fact that there are so many foolish people who blatantly believe or follow what these anonymous informants say? And as a result, you want to declare a war on the informants?

    Better think about it again. First of all, you don’t really know whether these so called “foolish” people really think that they are getting the truth. They might just see it as a form of entertainment. Everyone loves gossips and conspiracy theories after all.

    Second, unless the informants are trying to persuade their readers to conduct a bloody revolution, why we should care about the mumbo jumbo that other people believe? As I said, those who are being harmed by the false information will move by their own, quicker than we can ever thought.

    Another thing that makes me believe that these anonymous “informants” (especially those from social media) do not give us reliable information is because no one is truly anonymous in this modern age.

    Anonymity is usually used when you want to talk about some sensitive issues and you are concerned about your safety, although in certain case it is used simply because you want to talk anything without any responsibility. Thus, such anonymity would be used carefully.

    But I don’t see this carefulness coming from the informants that we often see and hear in the social media. They just share information as they wish through a media that can be easily accessed by other people to know their whereabouts.

    If the information that they distribute is very sensitive and true, and all of such information is related to powerful people, these informants must already hit the coffin long time ago. But apparently, that’s not the case. Not even any serious report to the police for defamation. In other words, the information should be unreliable and they exist just for fun.

    Word of advice: don’t think too much about these informants. As for the people who think that these informants bring the truth, well, there is still a good side of it.

    If you are an employer, you would now have a good arsenal to test new employee. Ask them whether they believe what these informants say and let their answer help you to decide whether they are qualified for the job or not.  

    Look, you just get a cheap IQ test out of it. So, who says that having these informants are bad for the society?
  • The Age of Information Overload?

    A recent article in Gizmodo attracted my attention. The author told us that he lost his faith in humanity upon finding the fact that some kids actually thought that Titanic is only a fictional story. While I understand that the author was exaggerating his point. It still raises a fundamental question. Is this the age of information overload? Is this a good thing or a bad thing?

    The above story reminds me of a scene in Slumdog Millionaire where Jamal, the main character, was interrogated by the police officer on how he could answer the various difficult questions in Who Wants to be Millionaire Quiz when he does not even have a clue on who Gandhi was. And Jamal's answer was sensational, "I might not know who Gandhi was, but do you know the bicycle thief on the road in front of this police office?". In short, Jamal explains to us precisely that each person simply has his or her own niche in terms of general knowledge.

    And I guess in this age, having such niche is very important. You can't judge the knowledge of a common person only by the level of his general knowledge on certain events. Yes, it seems foolish that the kids do not know about Titanic. But consider this. Suppose you, a city dweller, go to a village where the farmers know how to produce milk and crops. You watch them do their work and then you are amazed when you finally understand for the first time how your milk and rice are produced.

    Now these farmers would probably think that you are an idiot based on their standards of knowledge. From the farmers' perspective they will say something like this: "come on, how come a man does not know how to take milk from a cow? It's common knowledge anyway". Though I doubt that they will lose their faith on humanity simply because you don't know how to get milk from the cows.

    An Economist, Thomas Sowell, once said that the best sign of modern development is the fact that modern people need less knowledge in order to maintain a good quality of life. In the past, in order to survive the world, a man must have different set of skills, he must understand the nature, how animals behave, how to produce crops, how to cook meat, how to build houses, etc. How about now? I bet that most of us don't know a damn thing about how to survive in the wilderness or how to produce our own foods and clothes from scratch.

    We simply depend on other people with better comparative advantages to produce those things for us and we do what we think are best for us in accordance with our own skills. And this is in line with economics rationality. Why bother spending our resources on something that can be better done by other people? Unless the benefits of doing so exceed the costs, we would most probably choose to do something else.

    And the law also works under the same logic. When we are trying to impose certain liabilities to certain people for negligence, judges are required to adopt a standard that is common to such people under their respective categorization. You can't impose a professional's standard to an ordinary guy in doing their job. Everyone should be judged based on his reasonable skills. Only then we can produce an efficient result.

    Even when we are talking about the standards of knowledge for professionals, we cannot expect them to know everything. As an example, I am quite confident with my knowledge on securities laws, corporate laws, and Islamic laws, but I am not an expert on say, intellectual property and real estate laws. And it would be foolish if I push my luck on those fields by giving formal advice to my clients without proper preparation. In fact, based on comparative advantages, it would be better if I just assign those intellectual property cases to other lawyers who are more knowledgeable than me (which is also encouraged under lawyers code of ethics).

    If we want to be concerned with our generation, I say it's not about the amount of knowledge that a normal person should have, rather we should put more effort on understanding and improving how people think. This is an age where knowing a lot of things is good, but knowing how to effectively find the sources of knowledge is better. What is really important is how people will utilize such knowledge in order to maximize the welfare of the society and produce efficient results.

    Thus, teaching people how to think should be the priority. How to analyze things, how to have a healthy skepticism on various issues and beliefs, how to induce people to think creatively and to focus on solution-oriented thoughts. These are the things that will redefine our society for many years to come. It would be useless if we have a lot of people who know a lot of things but don't even have a single clue on how to utilize such knowledge.

    So, forget about the Titanic issue. Whether it is based on true story or not might not be highly relevant anymore in the future. Instead, we should teach those kids to understand that people should do their best in reducing the level of human error in the transportation business in order to avoid a case like Titanic and how we can formulate a good policy to reduce such type of accident. One thing for sure, I still have a lot of faith in humanity.

  • The Protection of Criminal Suspects in Law and Economics Perspective

    Forthcoming in Jurnal Teropong Edisi RUU KUHAP 2015 | 23 Pages | Posted: 10 May 2015 | Date Written: April 28, 2015

    Public Choice Theory and its Application in Indonesian Legislation System

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    Special Purpose Vehicle in Law and Economics Perspective

    Forthcoming in Journal of Indonesia Corruption Watch, 'Pemberantasan Kejahatan Korupsi dan Pencucian Uang yang Dilakukan Korporasi di Sektor Kehutanan', 2013 | 15 Pages | Posted: 22 Aug 2013 | Date Written: August 18, 2013

    Legal Positivism and Law and Economics -- A Defense

    Third Indonesian National Conference of Legal Philosophy, 27-28 August 2013 | 17 Pages | Posted: 22 Aug 2013 | Last revised: 3 Sep 2013 | Date Written: August 22, 2013

    Economic Analysis of Rape Crime: An Introduction

    Jurnal Hukum Jentera Vol 22, No 7 (2012) Januari-April | 14 Pages | Posted: 12 Nov 2011 | Last revised: 8 Oct 2012 | Date Written: May 7, 2012


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